Can Acupuncture Fix Your Fear Of The Dentist?

An estimated one in 20 people has a fear of going to the dentist. If you're one of these odontophobes, it could be keeping you from getting the dental care you need or want. However, a few carefully-placed needles-and not the anesthetizing kind-may reduce this anxiety.

A recent study examined the effects of acupuncture on 20 patients who had been struggling with odontophobia for years. Each one's anxiety was measured with the Back Anxiety Inventory before and after acupuncture treatments that focused on two specific points atop the head.

The average BAI score before acupuncture was 26.5, but it fell by more than half to 11.5 after acupuncture was performed by members of the British Dental Acupuncture Society-dentists who are trained in acupuncture. Furthermore, all 20 patients were able to get through their dental treatments after acupuncture. (Previously, only six patients could be convinced to undergo his or her respective treatment, and none completed it.)

Although the study, published in Acupuncture in Medicine, shows great potential, more research must be done to confirm this option's effectiveness-not to mention how to handle odontophobes who are also afraid of needles.